As M.P., Maharashtra burn, anger simmers among Gujarat farmers

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 08, 2017

Farmers have been demanding higher prices for cotton, whose going rate hovers around ₹1,000-₹1,100 per 20 kg during the peak season, as against its MSP of ₹832 REUTERS   -  REUTERS

Falling prices, inadequate infra plague the State’s farm sector

With the farmer agitation turning violent in neighbouring Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, their counterparts in Gujarat are looking to launch protests of their own, given the many challenges they have been facing of late.

However, while no farmer organisation has so far approached the government with their demands, farmers intend to form groups and submit memoranda to local district authorities.

Falling prices

Gujarat’s farmers have battling lower prices and lack of irrigation infrastructure for key kharif crops, including pulses, cotton and groundnut. Groundnut prices have fallen to ₹552 for 20 kg, as against the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of ₹844.

For cotton, which hovered around ₹1,000-₹1,100 per 20 kg during the peak season, as against its MSP of ₹832, farmers have been demanding higher prices.

Gujarat’s total agricultural loans stand at ₹72,212 crore as on March 31, 2017 — 17.54 per cent higher than last year. Agriculture advances formed 16.73 per cent of the State’s total.

“Gujarat’s farmers are no different from their counterparts in other States like Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh. Here, the extent of farm credit is no less than other States, and we, too, have witnessed suicide cases due to farm stress. In Gujarat, however, there is a tendency to roll over the credit and survive. But ultimately, the debt keeps building up and when it gets unbearable, they take the extreme step. Currently, the tempers are running high and it can potentially explode,” said Sagar Rabari, secretary of Gujarat Khedut Samaj.

False start

Rabari, along with other farmer leaders had planned a farmers’ rally in Gandhinagar on Thursday but had to abandon it as they were denied police permission.

“We did not want to risk anyone’s life. Nor did we want any friction with the administration. So, we cancelled today’s rally,” said Rabari.

Echoing similar sentiments, former president of the Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) Praful Senjalia said, “The stress is building up and we may soon see a mass movement in Gujarat too. We have seen farmers throwing their produces on roads such as potato, tomato and also milk. BKS is taking up the initiative to submit memorandums in each district of the State.”

No distress signs: govt

Meanwhile, the Gujarat Minister of State for Agriculture, Vallabhbhai Vaghasiya, said there farmer bodies had made no representations highlighting their woes. “Gujarat is fairly better than other States when it comes to farmer issues. We have addressed most issues faced by the farmers, be it procurement of groundnut or pulses under MSP or arranging fodder for the cattle,” Vaghasiya said.

However, political parties, including the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), have spotted political opportunity in the crisis and announced their plans to stage protests in support of the State farmers.

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Published on June 08, 2017
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